Admiral Byrd sent this one in 1929.
Mawson, Sir Douglas (1882–1958)
The biographical information below was extracted from this site:
"In November 1907 (Sir) Ernest Shackleton, leader of the British Antarctic Expedition, visited Adelaide on his way south. Mawson approached him with a view to making the round trip to Antarctica on the Nimrod. His idea was to see an existing continental ice-cap and to become acquainted with glaciation and its geological consequences. This interested him because in his South Australian studies he was 'face-to-face with a great accumulation of glacial sediments of Precambrian age, the greatest thing of the kind recorded anywhere in the world'. After consulting with David, who had agreed to join the expedition, Shackleton telegraphed: 'You are appointed Physicist for the duration of the expedition'. Mawson accepted, and so began his long association with the Antarctic.
Although he recognized that Shackleton's prime aim of reaching the South Pole was considered essential to financing the expedition, he would have liked more opportunity offered to the scientists. Nevertheless, the scientists' achievements proved to be considerable and Mawson had good opportunities for glaciological and geological investigations; he published significant accounts of his observations on the aurora and geomagnetism.
In March 1908 Mawson was one of the first party, led by David, to climb Mount Erebus. Next summer David (leader), A. F. Mackay and Mawson were the first to reach the vicinity of the South Magnetic Pole, manhauling their sledges 1260 miles (2028 km); Mawson was responsible for the magnetic observations and the excellent cartographic work. The return was difficult because of exhaustion and shortage of food. David, aged 50, suffered badly and at his request Mawson assumed leadership. The journey almost ended in disaster: having reached their main depot two days late and hearing a rocket distress signal fired from the Nimrod, Mawson, while rushing towards the ship, fell into a crevasse. Help from the ship was required for his rescue.
Shackleton's confidence in Mawson may be gauged from his instructions: should his own expedition to the South Pole not return in time, Mawson was to lead a search party. David said in public tribute: 'Mawson was the real leader who was the soul of our expedition to the Magnetic Pole. We really have in him an Australian Nansen, of infinite resource, splendid physique, astonishing indifference to frost'.
Mawson returned to Adelaide and his university post in 1909 but was still making reports on the expedition when his plans for further Antarctic work began to mature. Captain R. F. Scott was planning his second (1910-13) expedition and Mawson asked him for transport on the Terra Nova for himself and three others, to form an additional party of the expedition to be landed on the coast west of Cape Adare. Mawson expounded the potential scientific value of the proposed work but Scott was not persuaded. Instead he invited Mawson to join his South Pole sledging party. This did not interest Mawson, who was dedicated to scientific exploration. Mawson then approached Shackleton for help; he took over Mawson's plan as his own but failed to get adequate financial backing. Mawson waited until Scott had raised all the funds he could in Australia and New Zealand, and had sailed for Antarctica in 1910, before launching his own appeal for support of what was to be the Australasian Antarctic Expedition.
With substantial private and government backing and a prodigious effort on Mawson's part in planning, organizing, recruiting personnel, and acquiring equipment and supplies the A.A.E., including Cecil Madigan, sailed in December 1911. Three bases were established: one at Macquarie Island which, apart from its scientific work, was to serve as a radio relay station; Main Base under Mawson at Commonwealth Bay (Scott having landed his second party at Cape Adare); and Western Base on the Shackleton Ice Shelf under Frank Wild. At each base, and in expeditions from them, major scientific investigation was pursued in geology, cartography, meteorology, aurora, geomagnetism and biology. Also, an extensive programme of marine science was carried out from the Aurora under Captain John King Davis.
At Commonwealth Bay building was largely completed by February 1912 and the scientific programme well established before winter set in. This included preparations for the several land expeditions of the following summer. Mawson took charge of the Far Eastern expedition, which included B. E. S. Ninnis and X. Mertz, but was to become the most extraordinary epic of lone survival. When 310 miles (499 km) out, Ninnis, with sledge and dog team, broke through the lid of a large crevasse and disappeared. With seriously depleted provisions Mawson and Mertz began their return, progressively using their dogs to supplement their food supply. It was not known then that the dogs' livers were very rich in Vitamin A and potentially toxic. After twenty-five days on the return journey, and the combined effects of hard physical exertion and starvation, this toxicity may have hastened Mertz's death. Mawson, himself seriously debilitated, discarded everything that was not essential for survival, except his geological specimens and records of the journey. Using a pocket saw, he cut his sledge in half and dragged it unaided the last 100 miles (161 km), taking another thirty days to reach Main Base. As he approached he saw the Aurora on the horizon; she had come and gone. A small party had waited to search for him; they remained for another year. The scientific work at Main Base and Macquarie Island continued through 1913.
While recuperating, Mawson began writing his account of the expedition. The Home of the Blizzard (London, 1915), profusely illustrated by the magnificent photographs of Frank Hurley, is a classic of polar literature and described the first major scientific exploring venture by Australians beyond their shores.
Mawson was helped by other eminent scientists to analyse and report on the data collected; but so great was the task that publication of the A.A.E. Scientific Reports, in twenty-two volumes edited by him, was not completed until 1947. A.A.E. land parties had explored some 4000 miles (6437 km) in Adelie Land, King George V Land and Queen Mary Land. They outlined the geology of the country traversed and described the nature of the land and the coast between longitudes 90 degrees E and 155 degrees E and at Macquarie Island. They identified the characteristic feature of the Antarctic continental shelf: the bottom at first deepens on passing out from the shore, then shoals again before plunging to deep water beyond the edge of the shelf. New biological species, on land and at sea, were described. They recorded meteorological data simultaneously at the three bases; they maintained continuous geomagnetic field records at Commonwealth Bay for eighteen months and made further field observations to define more precisely the location of the Magnetic Pole; they systematically observed the aurora australis. The first to use radio in the Antarctic, they transmitted meteorological data to the weather bureau in Melbourne every day for two years from Macquarie Island and, during part of that time, from Commonwealth Bay also. The use of radio facilitated the accurate determination of longitude at Commonwealth Bay. It also enabled the transmission to Australia of Mawson's account of his tragic Far Eastern journey
As a result of his initiatives, the support of the Australian National Research Council, and the backing of the Australian government which resulted from a decision of the Imperial Conference of 1926, Mawson was invited to organize and lead the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition of 1929-30 and 1930-31. This expedition used the ship Discoveryand did not establish land bases. They made extensive geological and biological investigations at Iles Crozet, Iles Kerguelen, Heard Island and at many points along the 1550 miles (2494 km) of coastline of Antarctica between 43 degrees E and 179 degrees E longitude. They were greatly assisted by the use of a small aircraft. Much of the coast was mapped for the first time and it was shown to be continuous from the Ross Sea to Enderby Land and beyond. This work provided accurate geographic data that supported the Australian Antarctic Territory Acceptance Act of 1933. The Act came into force in 1936 and, by arrangement with the British government, established the Australian Antarctic Territory.
Mawson's interest in Antarctica continued after World War II when he promoted the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions; he was a member of the Australian Antarctic Executive Planning Committee until he died."
I will be back on Sunday July 1st. with part three. If you have any polar explorer bookplates in your collection please send scans so they can be included in the next installment